Review: Samsung The Freestyle 2nd Gen

A giant screen in a matter of seconds

With the new version of Samsungs mini projector: The Freestyle, you can get a giant screen on any wall - quickly, effortlessly and at a fairly reasonable price.

Published 2024-06-06 - 6:00 am
Samsung The Freestyle 2nd Gen
Audun Hage

Samsung is well known for their TV’s in all sizes and price ranges, but they also have their own projector line-up. The Freestyle mini projector is the smallest, cheapest – and by far the most flexible.

The first generation was launched in 2022, but didn’t quite hit the mark. In the promotional videos it looked like a full-blown light cannon, but in reality it had limited brightness and a lot of fan noise. Additionally, the built-in smart features were sluggish and made for an unresponsive user experience.

The second generation has now arrived and hopefully Samsung has managed to correct some of the weaknesses of its predecessor – while retaining its advantages. After all, this tiny little projector has a lot of smart features!

Samsung The Freestyle 2nd Gen with battery pack (not included) (Photo: Samsung)

Samsung The Freestyle Gen 2: Mini projector with lightweight form factor

Freestyle is a portable and compact smart projector that can project a large image on various surfaces. It is mounted on a small stand that allows the lens to be rotated 180 degrees.

The main difference from the first and second generation is on the processor side.

Freestyle 2nd Gen features an improved processor to ensure faster use of the various functions. However, the image sensor and light source remain unchanged. Samsung has therefore not achieved any improvement in brightness – which would have been desirable.

The Samsung projector is powered from the electric outlet, alternatively it can be connected to a battery pack, which can be purchased separately. Depending on the throw distance and lighting conditions, you should theoretically be able to expect an image ranging from 30 to 100 inches.

But – this isn’t the projector for die-hard home theater enthusiasts with “pro” framed screens in their basement – it’s better suited for those who want a quick, makeshift screen. For entertainment on a trip, in the kids’ room or for slideshows, a projector like this will work great.

The Freestyle is visually appealing with its compact shape: The cylindrical projector stands on a small round base and can be rotated 180 degrees. This makes it easy to project onto virtually any surface – whether it’s wall or ceiling.

Usability and features

Samsungs mini projector is a smart and versatile piece of kit. Thanks to built-in Wi-Fi, it has quick access to various apps. And you can tell that this generation has become significantly faster. It responds quicker to the remote control and loads apps faster than its predecessor.

The Tizen user interface is the same as in Samsung TVs and offers access to a wide range of streaming services.

All major streaming services such as Netflix, Max and Prime are available. It also includes Samsung’s own TV+ service, which offers a range of free, ad-supported TV channels.

The projector is very quick and easy to set up. In fact, it only took us 3-4 minutes from unpacking the projector, connecting it to Wi-Fi and pointing it at the wall to having colorful Baywatch(!) scenes from Samsung TV+ playing on the screen.

If you’re into gaming, you’ll be pleased to know that Freestyle provides direct access to built-in game streaming services like Xbox. Cloud Gaming. Simply connect a wireless controller to the projector and you’ll be playing in no time.

The projector can also mirror content from your phone via AirPlay 2, but if you want to connect to physical, external sources – such as a Playstation console – you’ll need an additional mini-HDMI cable connection for this. We think this should have been included in the box.

If you’re planning to take your projector on a trip, it might be a good idea to get one of Samsung’s accompanying carrying cases and a matching battery pack.

Automatic adjustment

The most important feature of the Freestyle projector is the automatic keystone correction. It adjusts the image geometry according to the projection angle and distance to the wall. Without this feature, images would look skewed and weird!

Thanks to the built-in sensors, Freestyle manages to project an image that looks (roughly) geometrically correct – even if the surface is not 100% level. The Freestyle also has autofocus, which provides a nice sharpness without manual settings.

However, you should avoid the sharpest angles, and there is still a little to be gained by optimally positioning the projector at a 90 degree angle to the wall and setting the focus manually. But when you need it to be quick and easy, the feature works well. In our opinion, the auto-settings are essential features that greatly improve the user experience.

The Freestyle also has the option of automatic color calibration via the Samsung Smartthings app and a compatible mobile. This can be used to correct colors when projecting on anything other than a white neutral background.

Image quality

The Freestyle Gen 2 uses the same type of DLP image sensor with Full HD resolution (1,920 x 1,080 pixels) as its predecessor. The brightness is also the same as before, just shy of 240 lumens.

This is still a relatively modest brightness and too low to achieve a great image with good contrast. A competitor like the XGIMI Halo+, for example, has a brightness of around 900 ISO lumens, while the slightly smaller MOGO 2 PRO can manage 400 lumens. But these are not as portable as the Samsung model.

The Freestyle Gen 2 still relies on dark environments to achieve acceptable contrast. Provided the conditions are favorable, the small projector delivers images that look pretty good.

We placed the projector at a distance of about two meters from our cinema screen and achieved a beautiful and colorful image of about 70-80 inches in a dark room. And the overall impression was that the image quality is well suited for all-night movie watching, gaming and other entertainment.

First of all, the images are surprisingly sharp, and the small Full HD projector manages to provide a detailed image as long as the focus is set optimally. And as long as the lighting is dimmed, it provides an image with good contrast.

Of course, the projector’s image can’t compare to the brightness and contrast of a TV, and you can forget about getting anything extra out of High Dynamic Range (HDR) video. The color reproduction, on the other hand, is very good, whether you choose the neutral Movie mode or go all out with Standard or Dynamic.

The Freestyle Gen 2, like its predecessor, relies on dim lighting to provide good contrast. (Photo: Samsung)

The great party trick of the Gen 2 model is so-called Smart Edge Blending. If you have two identical projectors available, they can be connected in tandem and set up to overlap and together project an even larger and wider image of up to 160 inches diagonally. We haven’t had the opportunity to test it ourselves, but it has been demonstrated at conventions in the past and it can be quite suitable for image presentations and not least entertaining for feature films in cinema format (2.35:1). However, it requires a partner with a similar projector – otherwise it’s costly investment.

With two Freestyle projectors and Smart Edge Blending, you can project an even bigger and wider image up to 160 inches diagonally (Photo: Samsung)

Audio quality

Another welcome development is that Samsung has managed to reduce some of the fan noise from the previous generation. It’s now less prominent in the soundstage and you are able to concentrate more on the sound of the cinematic action instead.

The built-in full-range speaker actually provides decent sound on its own with good reproduction of dialogue and musical rhythms, but there is of course a lot to be gained by connecting a soundbar – either via Bluetooth or HDMI.

Verdict

Like its predecessor, the Samsung Freestyle 2nd Gen is a compact and convenient projector that makes it easy to host movie nights and presentations wherever you want. With automatic image settings, it adapts to its surroundings. And with built-in Wi-Fi and streaming services, it provides easy access to entertainment.

The second generation has a noticeably faster user interface, better features and reduced fan noise. The result is a significant improvement in user experience, making this projector a perfect fit if you don’t have the space or time to set up a TV.

Karakter
Samsung The Freestyle 2nd Gen
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We think

The Freestyle 2nd Gen has a practical form factor and provides a spacious picture with great colors. The smart user interface offers fast apps and ease of use. The small projector hasn't improved its low brightness, but it's still capable of providing a decent picture at 65-75 inches in dark environments.

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